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First Name: Addison

Last Name: Baker

Birthplace: Chicago, IL, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: U.S. Army Air Forces (1941 - 1947)



Home of Record: Akron, OH
Middle Name: Earl



Date of Birth: 01 January 1907

Date of Death: 01 August 1943

Rank: Lieutenant Colonel

Years Served: 1929 - 1943
Addison Earl Baker

   
Engagements:
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)

Biography:

Addison Earl Baker
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Air Forces
Medal of Honor Recipient
World War II

Lieutenant Colonel Addison Earl Baker (1 January 1907 - 1 August 1943) was an officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II. For his heroic actions he was posthumously awarded the U.S. military's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor.

Addison Earl Baker was born on 1 January 1907 in Chicago, IL. He entered the service at Akron, OH.

Lieutenant Colonel Baker was commander of the 93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) in the U.S. Army Air Forces who led the group on the low-altitude Allied bombing mission of oil refineries at Ploie┼čti, Romania, Operation Tidal Wave.

On 1 August 1943, the 93rd Bomb Group, one of three from the 8th Air Force sent to the 9th Air Force especially for Operation Tidal Wave; the low-altitude Allied bombing mission of oil refineries at Ploie┼čti, Romania. The mission took to the air at Benghazi, Libya. Piloting Hell's Wench, a B-24 Liberator (Serial 42-40994), Baker led the 93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) as the second formation in the five-group mission of 177 aircraft. Co-piloting the aircraft was a volunteer and former member of the 93rd, Major John L. Jerstad.

Enroute, the aircraft carrying the mission navigator crashed at sea. As a result, when the force reached the target area, the lead group turned at the wrong point and flew towards Bucharest. Baker attempted to warn the mission commander of this error, but when that failed, led the remainder of the force to the correct turning point.

Although Hell's Wench was in flames and had been seriously damaged by German anti-aircraft guns, Baker maintained formation and bombed his target. Subsequently, Baker broke formation to avoid a mid-air collision with bombers from the lead group, now arriving in the target area from the opposite direction. He attempted to gain altitude so that his crew could escape by parachute, but despite his efforts, Hell's Wench crashed and exploded, killing Baker and the other nine airmen aboard.

On 11 March 1944, Baker was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. Major Jerstad was also awarded the Medal of Honor on 28 October 1943 for his role on the mission.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army Air Corps, 93rd Heavy Bombardment Group.

Place and date: Ploesti Raid, Rumania, 1 August 1943.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy on 1 August 1943. On this date he led his command, the 93d Heavy Bombardment Group, on a daring low-level attack against enemy oil refineries and installations at Ploesti, Rumania. Approaching the target, his aircraft was hit by a large caliber antiaircraft shell, seriously damaged and set on fire. Ignoring the fact he was flying over terrain suitable for safe landing, he refused to jeopardize the mission by breaking up the lead formation and continued unswervingly to lead his group to the target upon which he dropped his bombs with devastating effect. Only then did he leave formation, but his valiant attempts to gain sufficient altitude for the crew to escape by parachute were unavailing and his aircraft crashed in flames after his successful efforts to avoid other planes in formation. By extraordinary flying skill, gallant leadership and intrepidity, Lt. Col. Baker rendered outstanding, distinguished, and valorous service to our Nation.

Medals and Awards

Medal of Honor
Purple Heart

Death

Lieutenant Colonel Addison Earl Baker was killed in action on 1 August 1943. Although his body was never recovered, he was given a memorial site in Florence American Cemetery and Memorial in Florence, Italy.



Honoree ID: 1275   Created by: MHOH

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